Wednesday, February 15, 2012
It's something you probably take for granted every day and don't even think about: going to the bathroom.
For transgender people, gender-queers and people who live outside binary gender norms, walking through a bathroom door can be statement, an act filled with anxiety or worse.
A few people in Halifax are looking to change that.
The Queer & Rebel Collective will be holding a meeting/flashmob to discuss the topic this Thursday, Feb 16 at Just Us! on Spring Garden Rd. You can get more details on their Facebook event page. The Queer & Rebel Collective is also responsible for the Queer & Rebel events that took place last year and in 2009. You can find out more about them on their website.
The folks at prideHealth are also holding an information session on this topic at noon on Monday, Feb 20 at RBC Lecture Theatre at the Halifax Infirmary. The lecture is being hosted by both prideHealth and the Nova Scotia Public Interest Research Group (NSPIRG). You can get more info about the event here.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
I woke up to this song this morning:
I'm a huge fan of Chet Baker. There is something about the way he plays his trumpet, this beautiful detachedness to life and love, but never to the melody. And when he sang, it was like listening to his trumpet come to life. He sang in the same way he played, dropping and sliding notes, holding longer than he should, leaving it breathy and beautiful.
But "My Funny Valentine" is probably one of my least favourite of his vocal recordings. Maybe it's because it's so overplayed, to the point of cliché. But this version, done completely as an instrumental, is a beautiful lament, a plaintive love song "sung" by someone who is in love and unafraid of all that comes with it.
Many thanks and love to my better half for sharing it, and sharing himself, with me.
Monday, February 13, 2012
There will be tributes and accolades, dirty laundry and tabloid fodder in the upcoming days.
If anything, let this space be a respite from the dishing and proselytizing about Whitney Houston.
But there is one thing to be said: that voice.
Last year, Dutch disco editors extraordinaire Genius of Time quietly released a 12 inch called "Drifting Back." On the B-side was a track entitled "Houston, We Have a Problem."
What starts out with a great drum break soon progresses into a slow burn, releasing itself only at around the three-and-a-half-minute mark, with that unmistakable voice hollering out.
It was the first time I had been excited about anything graced by Ms Houston in almost two decades. (Yes, I realize that may make me a bad 'mo, but really, after working in a gay bar, you get tired of hearing "It's Not Right But It's Okay" blared at you over and over.)
"Never Find Love" is the only lyric sampled from "Million Dollar Bill," but Genius of Time make it sound like the only thing that matters in the world.
And when that voice hits you again, it is.
Friday, February 10, 2012
In a recent interview with the Huffington Post, Jersey Shore stars Snooki and JWoww* divulged their feelings about Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino. Namely, that they think he's a closet case:
What about Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino? What's the deal? Gay? Not gay?
Snooki: Do you think he's gay?
It wouldn't shock me. Whenever he brings a girl home, something always seems to go awry and they don't end up hooking up.
Snooki: And he gives them men's clothing to wear.
JWoww: And his posture and the way he holds his cigarettes . . . everything. Listen, I know I keep talking about my best friend Joey, but his husband was closeted for 27 years of his life. And I knew him before he came out. So because of that I know . . . the signs.
Snooki: Did you know the whole time that he was gay?
JWoww: Yeah! And it drove me nuts! I'm like, "Be happy with yourself!"
Actually, it should be Vinnie up there with Pauly D, not Mike.
Sorrentino felt the need to defend himself against the rumours. At least, that's what HuffPo and Gawker say.
All of this makes me think of a few things:
1) Methinks my lady doth protest too much.
2) The show is losing viewers. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
3) Snook and J are looking for a new audience for their upcoming spinoff.
4) Leave him alone. Please. I don't want to read about anything Jersey Shore-related anymore. (Unless it's Ellen making the cast fall down a hole in hell.)
*On a side note, I noticed that my gym sells Jwoww branded tanning lotion. This is why we as North Americans can't have nice things.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Fucked Up always likes to do things differently.
We may be in the Year of the Dragon, but the Toronto band won't let that affect their zodiac project. The project, which consists of singles named for years within the Chinese astrological calendar, heralded a new single, this time called "The Year of the Tiger," a collaboration among the band, filmmaker Jim Jarmusch and Annie-Claude Deschênes from Duchess Says. Part of the proceeds will be donated to the Panthera Save the Tiger Fund.
The band, whose lead singer was recently featured in Xtra, was also recently nominated for a Juno for Best Alternative Album. I am hoping they get asked to perform, as it's always nice to see how audiences react to non-pop performers during the show.
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
It's been five years since Lulu LaRude last fluttered her lashes.
I can remember the first time I met Lulu. It was in the basement of a theatre, and she was putting on her makeup in front of a very large mirror. Dancers were putting on belts, stretching, practising routines. I was dating one of the dancers at the time, and I just sat in the back, nervous and quiet. I was 19 and I had rarely had occasion to be around so many people who were queer.
That night was the first time I saw Lulu perform. She was surrounded by dancers, flanking and lifting her as she performed to Julie Andrews' recording of "Le Jazz Hot" from Victor Victoria. As she took off her wig at the end, the audience roared. She had them in the palm of her hand.
Then again, she always did. Lulu LaRude was born Chuck Gillis, but she lived as herself, no matter what name or gender you gave her. She was a phenomenon on stage, and I can say that without a softened tinge of nostalgia. She knew that people would go out to see her perform, not to walk around idly mouthing the lyrics to some innocuous pop tune. It was about fun, flair and fabulousness.
Image via Reflections Cabaret
This is not to say that Lulu could not bring shade to the table. I myself was once a victim of a reading by Miss LaRude, about which she later declared, "Honey, you know I don't mean it." And I knew. But damn, if reading was an Olympic sport, she would've cleaned up. Not only because she was good, but because she probably would have entered in various disguises and costumes, leaving the judges to think she was someone else entirely.
That was another of her gifts: understanding the art of artifice. One minute she was Carol Channing, the next she was a buxom blonde bimbo singing along to Julie Brown's "I'm a Blonde." One of my favourite performances was when she decided to do a number from Thoroughly Modern Millie. At one point during the number, she opened up her robe, allowing two weighted pantyhose to fall to the ground. Her ersatz tits hit with a thud, and then she started to spin around. The centrifugal force of her motion made her boobs spin around at a great distance from her chest. She stopped on a dime, and they spun around her and hugged her until they stopped, thwacking her in the face. She then proceeded to spin the other way, all the while making "Trinkt le Chaim" a song I will never forget. Now who else could do that?
It's been five years since Lulu passed away. No, I was not one of her many drag daughters. No, I was not a close confidant; I was never that lucky. But Lulu did introduce me to an idea of what drag could be, of what playing with gender and with the artificiality of it all can mean. It can mean beauty, laughter and love.
For that, I will always thank, and think of, Lulu.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
It's time to play nice.
Although I kind of slagged on Madonna's recent video in a previous blog post, there is no denying that Madonna knows how to entertain the masses. Criticisms aside, the material one did indeed put on a visually interesting and entertaining halftime show during this year's Super Bowl. Madonna is currently on a media blitz, including doing commercials with Jay Leno. If there is one thing she knows how to do, it's sell her own brand.
Admittedly, I have never seen her perform live (although I will admit to having watched the Blond Ambition Tour on video ad nauseum as a teenager) and was curious when I heard a few months ago that she might be coming to Moncton, New Brunswick. I would even possibly pay the high ticket price to see her strut her stuff on stage. But the tour dates were announced last night, and it looks like Moncton isn't on the list. There is, however, a three-day space between Quebec City and Boston, so who knows.
Maybe one day I could hear her sing this:
Monday, February 6, 2012
Once again, Thom Fitzgerald is showing Haligonians a sexy time.
The second annual Sex Festival starts today in Halifax. The festival is a month-long collection of plays, spoken-word performances, cabaret and games, all centred on sex and sexuality. When asked why he decided to start this festival, Fitzgerald simply says, “I think I woke up one day and thought, ‘I should have a sex festival’. I guess I was horny.”
It seems he’s not the only one. Many of last year’s events were sold out, including such events as an amateur pornography film festival. This year will include an event titled “Sexploitation,” with vintage '60s and '70s film shown with live musical accompaniment. Playwright Lee-Anne Poole, she of Short Skirt Butch, has also contributed to the festival, with a new play entitled Kinky Kitten Club. Fitzgerald himself will be directing a play by Bryden MacDonald, Whale Riding Weather, starring Hugo Dann, Hugh Thompson and Ryan Doucette.
Fitzgerald is known to many people outside of Halifax as a film director – The Hanging Garden, 3 Needles and The Event, to name a few – but in this town, Fitzgerald is well known for his theatrical venue, The Plutonium Playhouse, where he is artistic director. When he created the Sex Festival last year, reactions from the public were incredibly positive. And he’s learned that sex really does sell. “Last time we had great success and the only event that was not fully sold out was the one without a naked person on the poster,” he says. “So . . . asses and nipples on posters.”
When asked if he thinks that Halifax is a sex-positive city, he says that although it’s not a place where sex is visible, like in Montreal or Vegas, there’s more to sex than that. “My friend Luke says about our region, "All we had to do out here was fish, drink and fuck -- and now we can't fish."
For more information on events, check out the Plutonium Playhouse's website.
Friday, February 3, 2012
I am about to commit an act of homosexual heresy: publicly admit that I am disappointed in Madonna.
First, she announces that she will be performing at the Super Bowl with LMFAO. Really? The "Sexy and I Know It" dudes? The guys who sing about "wigglin'' over a bloghouse sound that was popular five years ago? If I were Berry Gordy, I would make them shut up about being related to me.
This is not to say that I do not love the darling Madge. I remember the moment I first laid eyes on her while she danced about her "Lucky Star," or the time I asked my third-grade teacher if she was a virgin. I can recite the entirety of "Truth or Dare," and I even own a copy of "I'm Breathless" on vinyl.
But then I saw this:
The video is like an episode of Glee directed by David LaChapelle. And Nicki Minaj? I'm starting to wonder if all she does is appearances in songs and videos. She's close to becoming the Ed McMahon of pop, although with better styling. Although I am somewhat excited by the idea of MIA and Madonna together, it kind of smacks of what Madonna does best: get someone who does something amazing and inventive and then get them to do it for her to give her credibility among today's youth. Although these are the signs of an incredibly intelligent woman, one who understands the cultural zeitgeist, there are times when you have to wonder: has Madonna dropped the ball?
Thursday, February 2, 2012
A wake-up call to those of you who wonder what that wonderful music you've been hearing lately is: disco. It never died.
Disco is everywhere you turn these days, from London’s Horse Meat Disco to DJ Harvey’s famed Sarcastic Disco parties. Crate diggers around the world have known the rewards that can be reaped from old disco records as the basis for hundreds of hip-hop, house and electro records. And one of the names you keep hearing, over and over again in the world of disco, is Larry Levan.
Levan was the DJ at the famed Paradise Garage, arguably the most important dance club to ever exist in New York City. Levan was the man behind the wheels of steel; he was the one who broke records, even if he had to force them onto the dancefloor. People lined up around the block, wanting to get in, hoping they might bump into someone who had a membership to this famed club. Watch any serious documentary or read any book about dance music and dance music culture, and Levan will be mentioned.
Disco was created in dark clubs full of sexual abandon. It was very gay, very black and Latino and very in-your-face. ABBA wasn’t disco; Dinosaur L was disco. Rod Stewart may have asked if he was sexy, but Loose Joints asked if it was all over your face. The Garage was a place where people who were considered to be “undesirable” during the Reagan years - due to their sexuality, their race, the socio-economic status, their serostatus – could find a space where they were not only wanted, but praised. There were other clubs, such as Nicky Siano’s The Gallery and David Mancuso’s almost mythological Loft, but the Garage and Levan were downtown, underground and downright sexy. When the “Disco Sucks” sentiment exploded, Levan and his fans simply went underground.
Levan remixed record upon record, visiting everything from singing strings to dubby disco. His playlists went outside the traditional “disco” genre, including everything from Kraftwerk to Marianne Faithful. Levan wasn’t a perfect DJ; he didn’t always mix well, and because of his drug use, he would even occasionally fall onto his turntables. But his sets weren’t about creating the perfect mix or a populist collection of the big hits.They were about communicating with his audience: this is what I am feeling, and this is where I want to take you. It wasn’t about what was right or wrong within a genre; it was about making everything right and tight. To take you on a trip, letting your feet take you to places you’ve never been.